The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Freshman year offers range of experiences, awakenings

by Charity Montieth, Bitty Reilly, Susan Tallant and Elizabeth Weeks/reporters

   (Part one in a three-part series on freshman facing their first semester in college.)
   Clueless unfortunately describes many new students attending their first semester in college.
   Students often register for classes and expect their college experience to be much like high school.
   But seasoned students can attest that the freshman year is a proving ground—a make-it or bust-out experience that will influence a student’s chance at succeeding in college.
   A new student on each of the four TCC campuses has agreed to participate in sharing all things good and bad as a college freshman.
   Alberto Anguiano thought college life would be fun, exciting and even thrilling.
   But the NW Campus student now has a different viewpoint.
   “ The truth of the matter is that college life is not that much fun or thrilling,” he said.
   After graduating from North Side High School in May, Anguiano took a semester off to work and pay off his car. He knew he eventually needed to return to his education.
   “ You have to go to college to be successful in life,” he said.
   Anguiano is taking four courses this semester—reading, basic college math, business computer information systems and English.
   He said his classes have been easy overall, but his computer class has been a lot of work.
   Anguiano said his college experience has been surprisingly busy.
   In addition to his classes, he is working full time at a Lowe’s hot dog stand.
   Because of his busy schedule, Anguiano has not had the opportunity to utilize all of the campus facilities.
   With classes in the evenings, Anguiano is on campus Monday through Thursday 7-10 p.m. He has used only the library, gym and math lab facilities.
   Anguiano is impressed with many of the features on campus although his math lab experiences have left him disappointed.
   Anguiano has been surprised at the mundane feel of college life.
   “ Going to college requires lots of hard work, and working while going to school leaves hardly any time for relaxation,” he said.
   As a night student, Anguiano has had more than his share of parking problems.
   “ I believe night students should get closer parking for safety reasons,” he said. “It would be so much more convenient for us when we come out of the school at night.”
   Anguiano has found college to be a difficult but rewarding experience. He has made many new acquaintances and is looking forward to the rest of the semester.
   Matt Mancuso grew up in Fort Worth working in his mom’s Italian restaurant, so he knows hard work and determination is required in order to succeed.
   Instead of running the family business, he is now a freshman on the NE Campus studying to become a firefighter and paramedic.
   Mancuso is taking 12 college hours, including classes necessary for an emergency medical technician certification, which is a requirement to enter both the fire academy on NW Campus and the paramedic program on the NE Campus.
   He is one of many new students finding out that life in the first semester is both gratifying and tiresome.
   “ Enrollment for the EMT entry was lengthy,” he said. “You have to have a CPR certification, drug screen and background check.”
   Mancuso also said the financial aid process is somewhat confusing.
   “ Studying is also hard right now,” he said. “A lot of people come from high school where you don’t really have to study. Then when you get to college, you have to crack down.”
   Mancuso learned about college difficulties when he enrolled in college right out of high school and quickly dropped all of his classes.
   “ I feel good about this,” he said. “I like coming to school to do something I enjoy.”
   Mancuso is also finding college brings other benefits, including the opportunity to work out in the gym for free.
   “ You can’t beat the gym,” he said. “There is no better deal.”
   Mancuso criticized the expense of purchasing textbooks..
   “ The cost of books is ridiculous,” he said.
   His overall experience so far has been a good one, and Mancuso is adjusting well to college life.
   Finishing her fifth week of classes on South Campus, Andria Blake is acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities of college life.
   After five years in the Army, Blake is now a first-semester student. She spent time in Italy and Iraq, and the GI bill pays her tuition.
   Blake has not decided on a major.
   “ Right now, I just want to learn … everything,” she said.
   This semester the freshman is taking nine hours of core classes.
   “ There aren’t many challenges in math, but English [composition] is stimulating, and art appreciation is starting to get fun,” she said.
   For her first semester, Blake is taking a light course load.
“ I wanted to slide into the educational environment this semester, but next semester, I would like to go all out,” she said.
   Finding out about student facilities and services such as the library, computer lab and student clubs and organizations, has been slow for Blake, who has a library very close to home where she lives with her parents for this semester.
   Frequently, she reads The Collegian while she waits for an English seminar. She would rather wait near the classroom, instead of sitting in the Student Center or snacking in the cafeteria.
   This semester she has decided to become familiar with campus life before thinking about going to work.
   Many new college students find themselves nervous as they enter their first semester, but one SE student says that just wasn’t the case—even after a 32-year absence from the classroom.
   In fact, Regina Thompson views her 32-year hiatus as an advantage.
   “ I have been out of school for a long time, but [in life] I have gained experience and knowledge that will only contribute to my success,” she said.
   Thompson, 50, is pursuing her associate degree in small business management and would like to use the skills gained at TCC to open a home-based travel agency.
   “ Going to college has always been one of my goals,” she said. “I believe that God has finally given me the opportunity and the time to pursue my education.”
   After graduating high school, Thompson enlisted in the U.S. Army, where she had the opportunity to travel the world and explore new cultures.
   She also met her husband David in the Army, and after serving their country, they settled down and had three children.
   Thompson says her children and grandchildren provided the primary reason she decided to go back to school. Her youngest two children, 16 and 19, will also be college bound in the near future.
   “ I hope to be an example to them,” she said. “I am an avid believer that education should not be taken for granted. I only hope that they will follow my example.”
   Thompson says the biggest problem she had was familiarizing herself with the campus layout. Everything was unfamiliar at first, but she attended an orientation for new students, which guided her in the right direction.
   “ The orientation was refreshing and informative. I was very excited to get started after that,” she said.
   Many students find the registration and financial aid process to be taxing, but Thompson said it was much easier than she expected.
   “ I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and the entire staff, especially Karen Simmons, was very helpful in ensuring I got all the proper paperwork done,” she said.
   Thompson is currently enrolled in three classes: speech, microcomputer applications and human relations.   She hopes that each of the classes will help to enhance her communication and business skills.
   “ I really enjoy all of my classes. My professors seem like they are very helpful, and so far each of my classes has been very interactive,” she said.
   Thompson realizes that balancing her studies with the demands of a family and part-time job can be a challenge, but she says she is up to the task.
   “ I am just so excited to be using my brain in an intellectual function again,” she said. “I can’t wait to get started with my studies.”

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